by Harry

There aren’t rules as much as there are expectations.

Neither of us is going to intentionally throw the ball into the street or the woods. It’s just not done that way. But even with our expectations, we can’t always count on the ball not sailing over one of our heads. I had a bruise on my knee for days when the ball got away from him and hit me there–hard. Catch is not a game without risks.

It’s hot and humid and we are both sweating, but this is an important game. I throw the ball to Elly with my right hand, he catches it in his glove with his left and throws it back to me with his right.

It’s late in the day, and we are getting tired. We make mistakes, but chasing after the ball is part of it because the game is about learning, not perfection.

“What happened there?” I ask as the ball passes 20 feel to my right—I’m not fast enough for that.

“I wasn’t looking at you.” comes the response.

My fancy sidearm throw flies over Elly’s head and I apologize: “Sorry–held on to that one too long.”

He laughs, “At least you’re better at sidearm than I am!”

A while ago I saw a play performed in American Sign Language. The actors, students at Gallaudet University, signed and there was a voice interpreter offstage reading all the parts. The characters repeated one line over and over: “There’s nothing to be done.”

At intermission the ASL interpreter with whom I saw the play pointed out that while the interpreter was reading the line directly from the script, the actors were always signing “There’s nothing to be finished.”

I liked that better.

Being human is hard, not hopeless. We are here, and that’s sometimes hard enough without becoming mired in how upset we are that we are limited to this hard existence. I need to remember how lucky I am to have this life at all. This life, this kid, this game. I need to remember that it’s about learning, not perfection.

It starts to rain. Soon we are soaked and can hardly see the ball.

“One more!” I shout from across the field where I’ve chased the last errant toss. I throw the ball in a long high arc across the field. Elly is ready. He watches the ball come towards him through the rain. And he’s smiling because there’s never been a bad day to play this game.